Trampers and climbers want the very popular access road to the Rastus Burn Conservation Area and Remarkables Mountains overlooking Queenstown reopened to the public. The road was closed at the start of the year by Queenstown company NZSki Limited while their skifield facilities are upgraded.
Federated Mountain Clubs president, Robin McNeill, says that NZSki has failed to realise how important the Remarkables are to the public and locals.
“This is a very special area, offering everything from short walks through to technical climbing”, said Mr McNeill. “Unilaterally closing the road without any meaningful public consultation, or even thinking of mitigation, is a huge oversight”.
Mr McNeill says there is, at the very least, a social contract to keep the road open. “When approval was given for the construction of the Remarkables Ski Area on Public Conservation Land, the operators agreed to allow walking and vehicle access at all times of the year. To ignore this agreement is not acceptable”.
Mr McNeill says that FMC has been talking to DOC and NZSki since late last year, but progress is glacial. “While we understand that heavy vehicles using the road during the construction period do create hazards, we have suggested many practical ways that public access could be maintained. To simply fall back on the Health and Safety in Employment Act is not a valid excuse to close the road”.
Foot access to the Remarkables Conservation Area is possible, but Mr McNeill points out that the three hour walk up the road, or the one day tramp up Wye Creek, or a direct ascent up the front of the Remarkables is not practicable for most people. “Trust me, I’ve done all those routes!” he says.